Good shepherds…

sheep, shadows b and w

Advent, day eleven.

We know the story. Simple shepherds on the hillside. An explosion of light. Polyphonic glories. Rough men, enfolded as worthy of royal appointment. How they set off on their own journey of discovery.

Of course, the Bible is full of sheep and shepherds. The Passover lamb. David in the fields with his sling shot. Psalm 23 and ‘the Lord is my shepherd, so I’ll not want…’

Jesus used the image a lot too. There is that bit in John 10 were he talks about the Good Shepherd. Perhaps the most famous passage is this one though, from Luke 15 (here from the Message version);

1-3 By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

I don’t mean to get hung up on sin and what being saved might mean other than reminding us that this is a parable, a story to make us think, to trip us up a little in our easy comfort.

What I want to take us back to is this.

Each sheep is loved.

But each sheep returns to the flock.

We are one, but we are part of each other.

The good shepherd knows this. She gathers us together.

sheep, snow, hills

 

Shepherd

 

Gathered

Like the late autumn crop

Like loose threads in a sock

Like post box gets mail

Like the children of Israel

Like birds overheard

Folk at a deathbed

Chicks under a wing

A choir come to sing

Like stories not told

Like the sheep in this fold

 

Gathered

Like wet fallen leaves

Like fields full of sheaves

In the arms of a mother

In the life of my lover

Crowd comes to band

Like a beach full of sand

Like hook and like eye

Like clouds in clear sky

Like boats back from sea

Like you gather me

 

Gathered

Like slow recollection

Like mutual affection

Like pond-bottom slime

Around the scene of a crime

Bright hearths in December

Like football club members

Like the hungry to feast

Around the holy high priest

Honey bees to a hive

Refugees who survived

 

Gathered

Like dry clothes from a line

Like grapes to make wine

Like fish in a net

Like old age regret

Like friends in a pub

Like the weft of a rug

Like cards from the table

Like telephone cables

Like hairs in a comb

Like prodigals now back home

 

 

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